The Benefits of Exercising at Altitude

For the last few weeks of my Chicago marathon training I was training at The Altitude Centre in The City of London, working out three times a week there to improve my cardio fitness.

The Altitude Centre is a studio that includes treadmills, rowing machines, spin bikes and weights, in a room set at 2700m above sea level. To put this into perspective, planes fly at 2100m above sea level, the Alps are around 3100m, Kilimanjaro is 5100m and Everest is 8800m.

running on a treadmill

As well as working out at 2700m, there’s a machine you can use that pumps air at 5100m and allows your body to acclimatise to breathing air with even less oxygen. You breathe for 5min intervals, mostly used by people training for mountaineering expeditions, or for Kilimanjaro and Everest Base Camp trips. Working out at The Altitude Centre helps to get the body used to working hard at altitude with less oxygen in the air.

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The workouts are 30mins, with Run, Cycle, Row and circuits classes on the schedule, alternatively you can turn up and do your own workout. I’ve been doing incline walking workouts for the past week while my knee has been ‘crunchy’, and still managed to get my heart rate up to 88% max, whilst in the run and circuit classes where I hit 96% (and came out shaking/dripping with sweat!) You wear a heart rate strap to monitor how hard you’re working, and to record your recovery.

  • There’s less oxygen at altitude, meaning that your body has to work harder to get the oxygen it needs to fuel your body. This makes it more efficient at using the oxygen when it’s readily available.
  • The body is put under more pressure so you can workout for a shorter period whilst achieving maximum benefits. 30 minute workouts are awesome.
  • You burn 2.5 times the number of calories when working out at altitude- great for weight loss!
  • Working out at altitude is hard work, it will help you push through the pain and discomfort when working out in real life. I think this probably helped a lot during the Chicago Marathon.

running on a treadmill

They suggest that to get the most benefit from working out at attitude you include the workouts into your schedule regularly, between 2-3 times a week if you’re training for something specific. I’m hoping to climb Kilimanjaro in the next few years although sadly when I suggested to Tom I would love to go on my honeymoon (I AM NOT ENGAGED) he thought it was a terrible idea! The Altitude Centre is also on Classpass – I’m going to add in 3 classes a month going forward, probably a circuit class and 2 runs.

These photos were taken on our Technogym trip a few weeks ago and from The Altitude Centre Mount Ararat preparation video. 

2 Comments

  1. 19th October 2015 / 2:51 pm

    When you first mentioned this place I thought it sounded awesome. I don’t think there is anything like it in NYC though, would love to try.

  2. 26th December 2015 / 11:09 pm

    I believe it. I always companies exercise at the gym on my lunch break, and it is widely used to determine my strength and improve my mood for the rest of the day. I am very tired, I could not do it on my lunch break or at the end of the day, it will be stressed. I have the opportunity, so I feel fortunate! I work for a hospital, and every one of our hospitals have fitness facilities.